Steel recycling and the melting processes utilize a specialized piece of equipment called an arc furnace to melt and extract metals. In the middle of the heating process, large graphite electrodes carry high amounts of electricity and turn red-hot. But what are graphite electrodes and how are they manufactured?
If you are familiar with arc welding, you know that a current is passed from an electrode (rod) to the metal parts you want to weld. A welding rod (which is made from a material like steel or aluminum) may or may not contain a flux core. Friction from the electric current then heats the rod, melting it into the metal joint to form a strong weld.
In an arc furnace, however, the welding rods are much larger but serve the same basic principle. Large electrodes (made from carbon compounds) come in many different sizes, depending on the needs of the steel melt shop facility.
The Beginning of the Manufacturing Process
To begin the process, the raw materials are ground together. Next, they mix with a liquid pitch. Pitch is a tar type of resin, and when mixed with the raw materials, it forms a graphite mixture which is then placed into molds. The molds are then vibrated at high speeds to compact the mixture.
The Baking Process
The electrodes turn into pitch coke and bake, creating a solid electrode. To improve the texture, the electrodes enter an autoclave where they soak up the liquid pitch. After soaking, they bake again to solidify their composition.
The Completed Product
By baking the electrodes at 3000 degrees Celsius, they become graphite. In order to create a completed product, some machining (to customer specifications and needs) is typically needed.
Since electrodes are consumable materials, it’s important to have plenty on hand for your business, which is why we always supply high-quality graphite electrodes.